No sooner did Islamic militants massacre 132 concertgoers, partygoers, pedestrians and coffeehouse patrons in Paris last week than the world jumped collectively to its feet. "The world stands with Paris," the Bloomberg news agency declared. "World stands by France," USA Today stressed. "The world stands with France," The Australian insisted. "World stands behind France," The South China Morning Post in Hong Kong explained. "World stands in solidarity with Paris," The National in Abu Dhabi, News World in India and CCTV Africa in Kenya all concurred.
Good to know. But we might as well sit down now. It's not as if "the world" was going to do anything anyhow beyond just standing there and trotting out the usual platitudes that have become routine in the wake of daily atrocities by Islamic terrorists over the past weeks, months and years, from Kenya to Canada and from Thailand to Tunisia. And so there the world was, standing with Paris and by France, posting faux-lachrymose status updates on social media, projecting the colors of France's national flag onto cultural landmarks, and attending candlelight vigils where someone inevitably led a soulful sing-along to John Lennon's "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance."
And the world had barely just started. Within hours of the slaughter came the usual fatuous memes. The peace sign with an Eiffel Tower in it. The French tricolor superimposed over Facebook profile images. The #prayforparis hashtag on Twitter. If fervent emoting was a viable anti-terrorism strategy, we would have Islamic terrorists on the run in nothing flat. As matters stand, however, the West is facing a massive civilizational challenge from radical Islam, which has been waging a global war on free societies for decades. And not only are most Europeans out of their depth intellectually about this threat; they seem both unable and unwilling to defend themselves from it in any meaningful manner. Most of them can't even bring themselves to name the threat (radical Islam, which has gone mainstream globally) — as if doing so would unleash some sinister, occult force that would instantly destroy all the comforting illusions of the modern West's collectivist religions: political correctness and multiculturalism. Then again, you also get labeled a racist instantly for doing so: those comforting illusions must be enforced at all cost.
In a video that has gone instantly viral on social media, a father and his young son are being interviewed, in French, by a television reporter at a memorial in Paris to the victims of the attacks. With people laying flowers and lighting candles in the background, the reporter asks the boy, who is around five, if he knows what happened. Yes, the boy answers, some bad people killed others. Why? "Because they're very, very evil," he explains solemnly. "They are not very nice. They are bad guys. You have to be very careful [with them]... They have guns and they can shoot us." The father gently interrupts him. "Yes, but we have flowers," he tells his son. "Look, everyone is laying flowers. That's the way to fight guns." The boy remains unconvinced. "But flowers don't do anything," he explains. But the father remains persistent. We need flowers and candles to fight evil, he reassures his son until the boy relents.
In other words, the young boy instinctively understood the world better than the adults around him. But we can't have that, can we, so he, too, was cajoled into seeing things through the rose-tinted illusions of insipid banalities. Many Europeans' solution to the ever-present threat of murderous Islamic fanaticism is to pretend that the only way to combat it is to bring flowers to a gun fight. If you can't beat them, try to hug them. (Their suicide belts might get in the way, though.)
If we needed any more confirmation, the general reactions to the Paris attacks have provided it: Today's Western European societies are in an advanced state of civilizational decline. Rather than rouse themselves from their stupor and face down the Islamic threat as earlier generations would doubtless have done, the continent's policymakers and citizens alike prefer to look the other way and carry on insisting that all we need to do is to try and get along. If that takes curtailing our freedoms, giving in to yet more demands from Islamic radicals, and abjectly apologizing constantly for our forebears' misdeeds in centuries past as if modern Europeans were collectively responsible for the Crusades, so be it. At the same time, the very idea of expecting "moderate" Muslims to take a robust public stance against the endless blood-soaked crimes their coreligionists commit is reflexively dismissed as intolerably racist. That is to say, intellectual coherence isn't much of a virtue these days.
"France is at war," French President Francois Hollande declared after the November 13 attacks in Paris, which featured militants from an enviably "multicultural" tableau that politically correct Europeans can be proud of: native-born Belgians, French nationals, recently arrived Syrian "refugees." Hollande promised a "ruthless" response. Needless to say, his ephemeral impersonation of Charles de Gaulle didn't last. "We are not committed to a war of civilizations because these assassins don't represent any civilization," he waffled. "We are in a war against terrorism, jihadism, which threatens the whole world." In other words, what France is up against is the nebulous concept of "jihadism," which is unrelated to any creed or culture or community.
But let's not blame Monsieur Hollande for his weak-kneed obscurantism. It's the default position of Western politicians and "intellectuals." President Barack Obama has likewise opined that the Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the Paris attacks, "no more represent[s] Islam than any madman who kills in the name of Christianity or Judaism or Buddhism or Hinduism." Leaving aside the logical fallacy in that garbled statement (are we to believe that any madman who kills in the name of those other faiths represents Islam just as much as the Islamic State?), what to make of his follow-up insight? "No religion is responsible for terrorism," Obama added. "People are responsible for violence and terrorism."
So long, common sense. Goodbye, logic. Farewell, reason.
France will retaliate by bombing ISIS targets in Syria and Iraq while simultaneously rounding up scores of Islamic militants on French soil. It will also boost security at popular venues at great cost to taxpayers. What France and most other European nations won't do is even try and tackle the real root cause of the problem, which is an extensive homegrown infrastructure of Islamic radicalism. Schools and mosques will continue to indoctrinate impressionable young Muslims with a hatred of their host societies on the trumped-up charge that the West is waging a collective war of extermination against innocent Muslims worldwide. More Europeans will continue to die in brutal terror attacks as a result.
Even as France and other nations cut off one head of the hydra of Islamic radicalism by eliminating a militant cell or two, other ones will spawn instantly in their place. France prohibits polls based on the religious beliefs of respondents, but according to solid evidence at least 15 percent of French Muslims identify with the ideology and goals of the Islamic State. In nearby Britain a quarter of young Muslims said they approved of the Islamic terrorists who murdered almost the entire editorial staff of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January. Such figures translate into millions of young Muslims, providing Islamic terrorists with a potentially limitless pool of new recruits.
The West is light-years ahead of the Muslim world when it comes to technological, industrial and military might, but it lacks the essential ingredient of long-term success: staunch belief in the justness of its cause and the superiority of its values. What's the use of pounding away at targets thousands of miles away, in Syria and Iraq, when back home we've already capitulated?